Most major restoration shops will say - up front- it will cost what it costs.
As much as BR dislikes the term, we are a small boutique restoration firm. Consequently the above statement is not an option for us.
However, no matter how much we try to estimate labor, materials, parts, and any outside services before beginning work, it is a thankless task.
No two restorations are alike - even should they be virtually identical cars.
There are no magical software programs one can plug in and - voila! - the final estimate is there in living color.
Yes, insurance companies and many of the larger bodyshops specializing in accident repair, do have sophisticated software which gets them 'close' to a final figure. Even then, the final invoice does not always match the initial estimate.
BR's specialty is restoring Series 1 Alfa Romeo Spiders. The newest being 41 years old. And just to make it extra interesting, while some body parts are available they do not fall under - remove bolts, remove panel, bolt on new panels. Everything is welded together, including many of the seams which have been filled in - at the factory.
The ideal situation is if you own a highly restorable car. Yes, BR would much prefer it to be an Alfa Romeo.
To roughly define 'highly restorable' would include being complete, not an accident problem (a few minor dents are expected), nor are rust particles holding it together.
Yes, of course it needs everything. This is to be expected.
The controlling aspect of not only BR but the restoration process itself is now going to come into play: Please do not dismantle your car. Please do not begin buying parts for it - unless they are hard-to-find used parts which are missing or your's are in unrestorable shape.
Most importantly, should this car be a recent acquisition, please don't assume (a) The restoration costs should take into consideration what you just spent (b) Why not buy the least expensive car you can, since it will be going through the restoration process anyway?
(a) Restoration begins when we have the car in the shop and an initial estimate (estimate being the key word here) has been agreed upon. What you paid for it or how you currently value it has no bearing on our costs.
(b) Should you have purchased an incomplete, accident involved, rust bucket, we'll save you the trouble - sight unseen the initial estimate is $100k. This sounds incredibly arrogant, but replacing various panels and parts such as door jams, rocker panels, door panels, wheel wells, etc., then making sure everything aligns properly, is literally an endless task.
Hopefully you've had a chance to read our page on 'Complete Restorations'. BR never assumes we have all of the answers. This is one of the reasons this site is in a fairly constant state of flux.
The beginning of the process of restoring (let's take for example an Alfa '69 Spider) is to begin removing all parts except for the suspension and steering. The entire car then undergoes a thorough cleaning. Only then does bodywork begin. Extremely low tech. A 17" file [a wooden board / handle with (in this case) 80 grit file / sand paper attached]. It is moved over the entire car at specific angles until all of the paint has been roughed up.
At this point there
is a better understanding of what will be required to complete
the bodywork. Still...it is not unusual for all panels not to
align properly. Perhaps the left door only requires loosening
the retaining nuts and moving slightly. Whereas the right door
must be removed, shims installed and the entire process gone
through several times - only to find plastic filler will still
be required to make the door align front and back.
In this case, when the bodywork is through, it is through. Consequently Biba Restorations charges only $35 per hour for final bodywork (excluding welding in of new panels).
We are willing to sacrifice profit at this stage so that the rest of the restoration takes place on a solid and straight foundation.
BR will attempt to inform you of the time being spent as the bodywork proceeds, but do keep in mind, it is only done when it is straight and ready for paint.
Our general fee for painting is $6k. This includes $1.7k for paint and associated supplies.
The paint is of the highest quality and most often is formulated specifically for the particular car - with the formula kept on file (computer).
Unlike an average paint shop, all of the panels (doors, hood, trunk, air inlet, gas cap cover, dash) are painted separately. The shell is then painted with no interference with door jambs and hood / trunk drain areas.
We specialize in single stage paint in that there is no clear coat. After waiting a minimum of three weeks, the color sanding begins - 1,000, 1,200, 1,500, 2,000, 2,5000 grit wet (and dry) paper is hand wet sanded over the entire painted surface. It is then all polished / buffed with 3M's foam pads and their compounding, polishing, and glazing materials.
During the removal of the parts process, notes are made as to missing, damaged, or incorrect parts. They are added to the invoice. We are always willing to discuss these additions - unless it is imperative they be done (e.g., burned out clutch, bodywork, yellowed rear window, new brake lines).
Typical projects require a $3,600 deposit to cover initial costs of materials and parts for the first 30 days. BR's hourly rate (except for bodywork) is $45.
You will then be invoiced every 30 days showing items and outside services ordered, along with labor. Included with each invoice will be progress photos .
BR neither works for you, nor do you work for us. Together we concentrate in bringing back what was once an outstanding example of functional art. and in doing so we preserve a delightful and still viable automobile.